March 06, 2007

A History of Mental Disorder Diagnosis (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the primary manual that psychiatrists and psychologists use to diagnose mental health problems in people. And, because insurance companies in the USA now require a diagnosis based on the DSM before they will reimburse or pay for the services, the DSM is required by any mental-health professional who wants to be compensated by companies (vs. direct payment by individuals).

This month's New Yorker Magazine has an interesting story on the history of the manual and of the person who was key in its development. We recommend you check this story out if this topic is of interest to you:

THE DICTIONARY OF DISORDER -How one man revolutionized psychiatry.

Interestingly, some doctors are saying we should "Dump the DSM". What are your thoughts?

(Thanks Genetics Blog)


The Dsm should be replaced by a more dimensionally based system.

Posted by: Tim^ at March 6, 2007 01:08 PM

I do believe that the DSM should at least be gutted. Maybe it should be used for emotional problems getting labels, but it should not be used for medical and developmental problems. Psychosis as a symptoms of alzheimers, Parkinson's, hypothyroid, or anything else should not be separated out as a "psychiatric" symptom. It is a symptom of a medical problem. Period.

Not every medical problem has a name or "label" let alone a diagnostic code! Why should the every problem involving the brain get pigeon-holed into some DSM diagnostic code? I think that causes people to be labeled and then the labels getting treated rather than the person.

We don't have a medical test for a headache, but that symptom still gets treated by a doctor, and it isn't in the DSM. Why should the symptom of psychosis be any different? By the way, I have to admit that this idea wasn't originally my own - but came from a young child years back. As they say - "out of the mouths of babes". The way we lump so many different illnesses into the bucket of "schizophrenia", it isn't much better than labeling a symptom - like "headache" (also an observation by that same child).


Posted by: Naomi at March 6, 2007 05:35 PM

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